Beyond Watches and Bracelets: The Rise of Washable Tech

Beyond Watches and Bracelets: The Rise of Washable Tech

By: Stephane Marceau, Co-founder of OMsignal

Smart apparel stands to change the way we relate to our clothes.

The Internet has changed many industries by transforming the landscape of products we consume every day. Many of us no longer buy newspapers, hail conventional taxis, read printed books or buy gas-powered cars. Instead, we now consume new breeds of everyday products that are digitally enabled and superior to their predecessors in fundamental ways.


As the Internet of Things goes mainstream and part of our everyday life, it comes at no surprise that the re-invention of everyday products is reaching the things we wear. Clothing, the biggest market of things we wear, is the current target. In 2014 in the US alone, the annual US$208.3 billion apparel market dwarfed the US$62 billion footwear market as well as the US$52.7 billion watch market.


Apparel Meets Tech

Many people, millennials in particular, now spend more money on iPhones and accessories and less on clothing. The apparel industry is starting to notice this displacement of consumer spending towards technology and as this trend accelerates, brands like Nike and UnderArmour have to enhance their tech appeal by delivering connected value to consumers.

Recent Fashion-Tech partnerships such as Google & Levis, Tory Burch and Fitbit, or hiring of top fashion executives by tech brands like Apple has recently done are all signs that tech-infused fashion is the way forward for today’s consumers.

Smartwear connects the consumer’s apparel--even a piece as intimate as a bra-- to their digital universe. This merging of apparel and technology creates one rich and multi-faceted value proposition that may change the consumer-brand relationship at its core.

“If you believe that our future is going to be defined by these hard pieces of glass or plastic that sit in our back pockets, you’re crazy. It is going to convert into apparel.”

-Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour


Textile Wearables Trump All

Although there has been an explosive adoption of activity trackers and smartwatches for years, the wrist is a rudimentary and poor piece of real estate on the human body to do wearables.


There are three primary reasons why smart apparel is set to emerge as the most pervasive form of wearable technology:


1) It’s natural. We have all been wearing clothes since we were born. Clothing is the only wearable we use everyday over the course of a lifetime. Bras, a new smart garment becoming particularly targeted, are worn by women every single day.


2) It provides deep and accurate bio-signals. Since smart clothing gives access to the best of the body’s real estate, you can acquire biological signals directly from the source, resulting in a deeper level of accuracy. Becoming more discerning of the accuracy in the information their smart apparel provides, consumers are able to gain more healthful insights (think about a future of smartwear that not only notifies you when you are at a momentary risk of an asthma or heart attack, but notifies your spouse as well). With unprecedented technology you will find your workouts more mindful through progression, awareness and sustainability.


3) It’s profoundly social. Humans love apparel, carefully watching what the “Alphas” of each new era wear. You don’t hear talk about Julianne Moore’s watch or phone choice at the Oscars, but endless ink and airtime is used to talk about her dress. Viral advertising is encoded into nearly every piece of clothing we wear, as creators recognize that wearing clothes is already the most prevalent form of personal expression and identification. Our fascination for the social and personal identity clothes bring has always compelled consumers to buy new apparel and that won’t change.  The intelligent and connected side of clothes will fundamentally add to the value proposition of apparel and the digital content it creates will exponentially increase the social magic of our clothes.

The Full Stack Challenge: From Style to Insight

Developing compelling, consumer-grade textiles is a daunting challenge.


Smart apparel is hard. Many top brands and universities tried and failed to deliver a consumer-grade product. Smart apparel needs to be able to read and convert multiple bio-signals from the skin into insight for the user. This smart apparel full stack covers multiple layers including apparel design, seamless sensor integration, hardware and software development, bio-signal interpretation, at scale manufacturing and UX development rooted in the psychology of how humans relate to their bodies.


The consumer pull for smart clothes is too strong to ignore. After 20 years of research, development and prototyping, a new breed of smart apparel product largely developed by venture capital startups is now making its way to consumers. From Sensoria Smart Socks that monitor your foot-landing technique as you run to Nadi We-eX yoga tights communicating insight through haptic vibrations during your yoga practice, to Athos which analyzes which of your left and right quadricep pushes more when you lift, to Lumo Run which offers a device that augments your running shorts, washable tech and smart apparel are starting to reach consumers.


Today, after two years of consumer research, fashion and digital design, technology development and biometric beta-testing, OMsignal is launching the OMbra--the world’s smartest line of sports bras. Paired with it’s companion OMrun app, women everywhere are now able to be coached through personal biometrics in real time on how to maximize their progress and fat burn while reducing the risk of injury and fatigue. With looks that could kill, comfortable support and biometric precision, the OMbra trumps all else on the market.


Why wait? Channel your inner OM and achieve results by ordering yours today.


Leave a comment